Jennifer D Saint Barnabas’ Burn Center Restores Victims To Health

"The care I received was phenomenal, and the nurses and technicians made the experience a bearable situation."

Jennifer Doherty only had a few hours to enjoy her vacation in Jamaica in 2012. At dinner on her first night there, she approached a flaming dessert station. She doesn’t remember how, but the flames caught her, causing second and third degree burns on her face, neck, chest and arms. But she was airlifted to Saint Barnabas Medical Center, and today is back at work as a teacher.

Doherty, 46, and her husband, Hani Khoury, live in Hackensack. She initially was treated at the resort and a local hospital, but “I was heavily medicated and only remember bits and pieces of it,” she says. She does remember the medical transport to Saint Barnabas, and being taken to the special “tank room,” where her wounds were cleaned. Then she was fully bandaged from the waist up, including her whole face and ears.

Doherty spent eight days in the intensive care unit, and the pain was well managed, she says. Then came seven weeks of what’s called step-down care, in which she slowly moved from critical care to more normal daily care. But she still needed regular treatments in the tank room and remained heavily medicated. About three weeks after the accident, she received skin grafts, taken from her leg, to her chest, arms and ears.

“The care I received was phenomenal, and the nurses and technicians made the experience a bearable situation,” she says. She admits the scars left by the burns were “shocking” at first. Some scars are still evident today, but she doesn’t hide them under long sleeves or high-neck shirts. “I am always open and talk about it with people who don’t know,” she says.

Doherty was so happy with her care, she shares her experience at support groups for other burn patients. She was trained in a program called Soar—Survivors offering assistance in recovery—by the Phoenix Society for burn survivors. “It is really great to share that common experience,” she says.

About The Burn Center at Saint Barnabas

The Burn Center at Saint Barnabas Medical Center, verified since 1999 by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and American Burn Association (ABA) is New Jersey's only certified burn treatment facility. Since its establishment in 1977, The Burn Center is one of the largest and busiest centers in the United States, treating tens of thousands of people.

Each year, a dedicated team of close to 100 professionals with unparalleled clinical experience provides a full range of diagnostic and therapeutic services for approximately 400 inpatients; 40% of whom are children under the age of five.

Inpatient care is provided in a 12-bed Intensive Care Unit and 16-bed Step-down Unit for in-patient care which feature two state-of-the-art hydrotherapy rooms for the management of burn wounds. A specialized rehabilitation room, staffed with highly trained physical and occupational therapists is equipped with a variety of machines and devices specially designed to foster the return of range of motion and minimize loss of function commonly associated with a burn injury.

In addition, staff members treat outpatients with small or minor burns and provide follow-up care for discharged burn patients in The Center for Wound and Burn Healing.

The burn team treats more than just physical injuries. Support groups for recovering burn patients, their families and friends are offered to help survivors cope with the anger, guilt and frustration commonly seen throughout the recovery process. Licensed social workers oversee these therapeutic discussions to help attendees realize they are not alone as they struggle to come to terms with such a life-changing event.